Cameroon: Traditional Rulers Discuss Land Reforms With Lawmakers | Land Portal

They are pushing for more women representation in land ownership.

Traditional rulers in Cameroon have for some time now been advocating an amelioration in land reforms that date back to some 39 years. Over ten of them representing the ten regions of the country met with lawmakers at the National Assembly on December 13, 2013 within the framework of consultation organised by the Network of Parliamentarians for Sustainable Management of Dense and Humid Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPAR) with support from technical partners like the Centre for Environment and Development (CED).

Hon. Martin Oyono, speaking for REPAR, said the procedural complexity to own land and have the title especially for women was central and there was need to reverse the trend, reason why government-Parliament dialogue was indispensable. Going by traditional rulers, the problem is even more serious than the eye may see. "The reality is that with the 1974 law, traditional rulers play a symbolic rule in the attribution of land and the law says in the land consultative board, the traditional ruler is a member with two of its notables but what happens in practice is contrary," said Fon Chafah XI of Bangolan, Secretary General of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Cameroon.

He went further to explain that the Divisional Officer is the chairman of the board and there are cases where some of them go to fondoms, choose any notable and include in the commission without the consent of the traditional ruler and they go ahead to take decisions (sometimes wrong) on land. "We know which family owns which land in the village but administrators are visitors," he said, stressing that it was "not a question of conflict."

Among the proposals tabled to lawmakers, traditional rulers want the revision of law where customary practices deprive women of the right to land ownership. They say women should have equal access to land like men. They also want that limits should be placed as to how vast an individual can own land because they feel that if this is not done, some wealthy and influential individuals can acquire vast lands. Traditional rulers also want that in each village community some land parcels should be reserved for community use.

CED Coordinator, Samuel Nguiffo noted that land is becoming scarcer in rural areas with several development activities like logging concessions, mining, infrastructural projects at a time many communities willing to have more access to land. No solution for now, but Samuel Nguiffo thinks that securing the existing land rise of communities before granting rights to incoming projects was indispensable.

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